A group of big-dollar donors who have spent millions electing Kyrsten Sinema and other Democratic senators is threatening to sever all funding to her if she doesn’t drop her opposition to changing Senate rules in order to pass voting rights legislation.
In a letter to the Arizona lawmaker, which was first obtained by POLITICO, 70 Democratic donors — some of whom gave Sinema’s 2018 campaign the maximum contribution allowed by law — said they will support a primary challenge to Sinema and demanded that she refund their contributions to her 2018 campaign if she doesn’t budge.
“We are terrified about our prospects as a democracy if we do not pass the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis VRA Act,” they wrote in the 1,400-word missive. “We appreciate your support of these bills, but they will die without your action on Senate rules. Bipartisanship works only if it is reciprocal. Republicans are gutting our electoral system in state capitals with no federal check on them. This is life and death important to us.”
The broadside is the latest example of the fury among a growing number of Democratic donors, lawmakers and organizations after Sinema’s rejection of their pleas to do away with the filibuster. They are turning the screws on her in the hours before the Senate careens toward a showdown over voting rights Wednesday evening, which is expected to end in failure for Democrats because they lack the votes to create an exception to the filibuster.
“I can’t recall this kind of pressure coming from party regulars,” said Adam Jentleson, a Democratic strategist who supports eliminating the filibuster and wrote the book “Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy.” “I think it says a lot that there’s this level of feeling right now.”
Sinema is up for reelection in 2024.
Democrats believe the need to pass a voting rights bill is particularly urgent in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results, as well as the efforts of GOP-led states to push through a slew of bills restricting voting The voting rights legislation is a top priority of President Joe Biden as he wrestles with low job approval ratings and setbacks to his agenda.